Thursday, June 5, 2014

Zombie Horror: Reflections on a Genre

I still envision zombie fiction as a horror sub-genre, but it has evolved into its own genre. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; less than a decade ago, it was a challenge to find any zombie fiction at all. People like myself who grew up with zombie movies were teased by the possibilities; Romero and the other zombie-film directors were never given huge budgets to work with, so it seemed as if they spent more of their budget on the things that mattered most: makeup, gore, and securing a vivid location. I know Romero’s original Day of the Dead script was hacked to pieces, but I still love the film. 

Brian Keene, Joe McKinney, David Moody, Jonathan Maberry, Mark Tufo; these authors helped pioneer the emergence of zombie fiction as its own genre, almost separate from horror. Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic series bridged the gap between niche-horror and mainstream entertainment. There are so many possibilities now for people who have an imagination; there are now thematic variations of zombie fiction. Survivalist, Dystopian, military adventure; these seem to be the popular incarnations. 

A lot of zombie fiction seems to be fit more into an action/adventure mold than horror; the survivalist books can still be frightening, because we have the anxiety that comes with surviving a natural disaster, the psychological damage, the fear of other survivors in a post-apocalyptic setting, etc. Then we have the Call of Duty video game zombie novels, in which we have a bunch of soldiers at war with zombies. We still have books where swords can magically decapitate zombies (if you know me, you know this is a HUGE pet-peeve of mine), and that’s cool. That’s what people want to read. I think there is a lot of potential in this particular fiction market, but…

What happened to zombie horror?

Read on!

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